News probe finds weakness in air cargo security

| 8/11/2005

A three-month investigation conducted by CNN has found what appears to be a serious loophole in the nation’s air cargo security program – specifically as it relates to trucks and cargo containers.

An unnamed Federal Aviation Administration inspector told CNN that little has changed in the way of cargo security since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In fact, the inspector said that, on most of the flights he has observed, almost none of the cargo was inspected.

“Cargo still has a lot of loopholes where something could get on an airplane,” he said.

During their investigation, CNN staff traveled to airports around the country and found plenty of loopholes, including cargo containers left unattended and unattended trucks with their cargo doors left wide open.

At the U.S. Postal Service Chicago International/Military Service Center at O’Hare International Airport, they found gates unlocked and left open. The news organization took a camera crew in to inspect containers. Nobody questioned what they were doing.

Jim Ruck, public affairs director for the Postal Service’s Chicago region, told CNN that the Postal Service doesn’t consider the area to be a security risk and that security cameras at the facility are not regularly monitored.

Officials with the Transportation Security Administration told CNN that the agency screens shippers through its known-shipper program. The program requires airlines and carriers to go through a series of procedures to identify shippers so they are not receiving shipments from unknown entities.

TSA has 200 federal inspectors nationwide, but their job is to make sure the airlines are following the rules, not to inspect any cargo.